Band of Gypsys original

Hendrix drummer on 'Ladyland'

Buddy Miles, who co-founded and played drums in Band of Gypsys with Jimi Hendrix, died Tuesday in Austin. He was 60.

A cause of death was not announced.

Miles was born Sept. 5, 1947, in Omaha, Neb., and was introduced to music at a young age by his father, who played in a band called the Bebops. As a young man Miles also played with Wilson Pickett, the Delfonics and the Ink Spots.

He met Hendrix in the early 1960s but didn't begin collaborating with him until 1969, when Hendrix produced an album by the Buddy Miles Express.

Miles, often decked out in sequined clothes and an enormous Afro, went on to drum on Hendrix's landmark "Electric Ladyland" album before officially joining Band of Gypsys with bassist Billy Cox a few months later.

The group's lone self-titled album chronicled a New Year's Eve 1969 concert at New York's Fillmore East and is regarded by many as one of the era's best live albums.

After Hendrix's death in September 1970, Miles contributed drums to a handful of posthumous Hendrix releases, including "Cry of Love." He spent time in jail in the late 1970s and early '80s on drug charges but returned to the spotlight in 1986 when he served as the voice for the popular California Raisins claymation TV ads.

Miles and a studio band recorded a cover of Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" as part of the campaign, which became a minor radio hit in 1988.

Miles also played with such stars as Stevie Wonder, Carlos Santana, David Bowie and George Clinton.

Jonathan Cohen is senior editor at Billboard.